Thursday, December 17, 2015

Cara Carissima by Geoff Page

Cara Carissima by Geoff Page.  Produced by Peter Wilkins (The Acting Company) and Geoff Page; Associate Producer: Joe Woodward (Shadow House Pits).  Director: Tanya Gruber; Set Design: Charlotte Stewart; Lighting Design: Ben Pik.  At The Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre, December 17-20, 2015.  Running time: 60 minutes.

Reviewed by Frank McKone
December 17

Peter Robinson – Barry, a senior public servant
Cara Irvine – Cara, Barry’s executive assistant / lover
Nikki-Lyn Hunter – Sarah, Barry’s wife / ex-wife
Kate Blackhurst – Jane, Sarah’s sister
Bruno Galdino – Bruno, barista

Lighter than a latte; skinny as in cap;
With a little bit of rum, and some froth on tap.

My apologies to the author, who likes his rhyming couplets.  It’s these that make Cara Carissima into a pleasantly humorous light entertainment on a theme of life in administration.

Or rather, what we see of that life out of the office in a convenient take-away coffee shop.  Here the barista – much too impressive a title, I thought – listens to his customers’ personal interactions and fills us in with the details between the scenes we observe, as Barry’s and Sarah’s marriage falls apart, Jane does what she can to keep things sensible; and Cara takes Sarah’s place, leaving Sarah hoping in revenge that the younger woman will soon find Barry as boring as she had. 

The venue is not kind to the actors, because of its acoustics.  Playing in the round – or in this case in the square with audience in all four sides – was perhaps not such a good idea, even though it meant a closer intimacy for each of us watching than the options of dividing the space in a conventional way.  Although actors made sure they spread their attention around fairly evenly, it was often difficult to pick up the words clearly from an actor when facing the opposite side.  And I have to admit that though Bruno’s accent made his title as barista seem more likely, many of his words were hard to understand.

Since Geoff Page is a very well-known poet, and words – especially how they sound – is so important in his work, I wondered if the play may not work very well on radio, even though seeing the characters live was good fun.